SolidWorks World 2008 Day 1 (Jan 21) Breakouts and Such

Though the breakfasts at SWW8 left a lot to be desired, I have to say the food serviced at the lunches was enjoyable.  One of the things that SWW8 organizers tried to do was set up tables for lunch with particular themes, called Birds of a Feather.  Basically, each day, the cafeteria was laid out with tables in particular areas being labelled with particular interests.  One day the tables were labelled based on SolidWorks software related interests.  Another day, the cafeteria was divided into industry genre.  The last day was divided into regions of the U.S. and the World.  Honestly, it didn’t make a dang bit of difference to me.  Two out of the three days, I sat pretty randomly anyway.  The one day I did sit where I was supposed didn’t turn out all that interesting to me (no offense to the people at the table with me).

 On my first day of SWW8, my breakout sessions where actually not directly SolidWorks related.  The first breakout session I attended covered Advanced Project Management Concepts.  I choose this session originally because other available sessions at the same slot were either topics I already know well enough, or were not related to me at all.  I didn’t expect much from this particular session.  I was surprised.  I’m glad I was in attendance.  The session was kinda an eye opener covering topics in project management including criticisms of and improvement upon the critical path method, the root causes for scheduling issues, bad behavior that I have always thought was good behavior (multi-tasking), Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time available for its completion), 3 Minute Egg Rule (sarcastically: it’s not quality if its finish before time is up), and the CYA factor.  The session then addressed the true nature of projects and discussed methods to use in order to plan projects more effectively.  Out of all my breakout sessions, this is the one where I took the most notes (and that wasn’t because it was the first one I attended).

I then attended the breakout session labelled Clarifying Software Tools and Regulatory Compliance.  I work in a heavily regulated industry, and have been grappling with the question of how to treat SolidWorks within that environment.  Is SolidWorks and related applications subject to validation requirements.  The answer I found here was no!  SolidWorks and its related applications are authoring tools.  Drawings can be document of record in the Device History File, but they can be so in the form of formats like PDF or TIFF.  My company already treats the PDFs of drawings as the controlled document, so this fits well within our processes without the risk of having cumbersome activities limit the use of SolidWorks in some artificial way.

Hybrid Modeling Solids and Surfaces was the next breakout session I attended on Monday.  This session was conducted by Matt Lombard.  This session revolved around the idea of using good practices to create models that employed both surfacing and solid modelling.  He discussed the sequential method where one starts out creating a part as surface model and then becomes a solid model.  This is accomplished by grouping all of the surface features at the start of the Feature Manager, and grouping the solid features at the bottom.  This method produces a well organized tree, but may be difficult to maintain if certain features which blur the boundaries of surface and solid modelling are used.  The alternative is simultaneous hybrid modelling, that has a combined use of solids and surfaces throughout the Feature Manager tree.  He also went into details about many of the surface and solid modelling tools.  Seeing many of the SolidWorks tools demonstrated was enough to make this time well spent.  I briefly met Matt at the end.  We previously have had some correspondences regarding a particular topic du jour: HM, CF, RC1, RC2, & RC3.

I went to my final session of the day on a whim.  I had intended on going to a session that covered the topic of PDMWorks and API or something.  However, it was across the building, and this session was just down the hall.  Welcome to the 9th Annual SolidWorks User Group Network Summit Meeting.  The attendees of these meeting turns out to be a who’s who in the SolidWorks universe.  Many of us Blog Squad members where there, but the focus of the group was the SWUGN and its leadership.  I was first introduced to this level of activity by a personal invite from Richard Doyle to attend a SWUGN Regional Technical Summit in 2007.  Before that, I had been to a couple of SWUG meetings over the years and that’s about it.  The one thing that strikes me as quirky and yet endearing is Richard Doyle’s pronunciation of the letters S-W-U-G-N and how they just roll off his tongue.  It’s not swu-jen, or swoo-jen, or swu-gun, or even swug-in.  He pronounces the g as in begin, not as a j like in giant.  He easily utters swu-gin in a way that may take other English speakers years to master.  

 The session was very informative as to the progress and goals for the SWUGN in 2007 and throughout 2008.  As the day come to a close, I headed off to recoop in preparation for the long day to come.